As we get older we begin to have trouble hearing clearly and we typically just accept it as a normal part of aging. Perhaps we start turning up the volume on the TV or keep asking our grandkids to speak up when they’re talking to us, or maybe we start forgetting things?
Loss of memory is also often seen as a normal part of aging because the senior population is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and dementia than the general population. But what if the two were somehow related? And, even better, what if there was a way to address hearing loss and also maintain your memories and mental health?
Hearing loss and mental decline
Most individuals do not connect hearing loss with cognitive decline and dementia. But if you look in the appropriate places, you will find a clear link: if you have hearing loss, even at low levels, studies have shown there’s a considerable risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline.
Mental health issues including anxiety and depression are also fairly prevalent in individuals who have hearing loss. The key point here is that hearing loss, mental health problems, and cognitive decline all influence our ability to socialize.
Why is cognitive decline affected by hearing loss?
There is a connection between hearing loss and mental decline, and though there’s no concrete proof that there’s a direct cause and effect relationship, experts are looking at some compelling clues. They have pinpointed two main situations that they believe lead to issues: the inability to interact socially and your brain working overtime.
Studies have shown that anxiety and depression are frequently the result of loneliness. And when people have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to interact socially with other people. Many individuals find it hard to go out to the movies or dinner because they can’t hear very well. These actions lead down a path of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues.
In addition, researchers have found that the brain often has to work harder to make up for the fact that the ears can’t hear clearly. The part of the brain that processes sounds, like voices in a conversation, requires more help from other parts of the brain – specifically, the part of the brain that keeps our memories intact. Cognitive decline will then progress faster than normal as the overtaxed brain strains to keep up.
Using hearing aids to prevent mental decline
The weapon against mental health issues and mental decline is hearing aids. When people use hearing aids to deal with hearing loss, studies have revealed that they were at a reduced risk of dementia and had increased cognitive function.
If more people used their hearing aids, we may see fewer instances of mental health problems and cognitive decline. Between 15% and 30% of individuals who require hearing aids actually use them, which accounts for between 4.5 million and 9 million people. Nearly 50 million individuals cope with dementia as reported by the World Health Organization estimates. For many individuals and families, the quality of life will be enhanced if hearing aids can decrease that number by even a couple million people.
Are you ready to begin hearing better – and remembering things without any trouble? Get on the path to better hearing and improved mental health by calling us for a consultation.